Monday, May 28, 2007

Dude, just get away from our family

On my dad's side of the family it's been the same Memorial Day for decades. First, they visit the Pleasant Ridge Cemetary in rural Norway, KS for the American Legion ceremony and to lay flowers on the graves of our relatives that have passed away going back several generations. Members of the Legion come out and lay a wreath under the flag before a 21 gun salute and the playing of "Taps" on the bugle. It's a nice ceremony and definitely a great tradition. I've been going there since I was born and have only missed maybe 1 or 2 in my life while I was in Ames. (Interestingly enough the family name is "Ames" also although we aren't related to Oakes Ames, the namesake of the town. Which is ok by me as he was also a crook and never actually saw the town.)

After that we gather for a huge potluck meal in the Norway, KS gym. After the food settles we usually get some pretty intense basketball action going. The tradition has become "old guys" versus "young guys" in recent years. I managed to work my way onto the old guy team which probably has more to do with my receding hairline than the fact that I'm the oldest of the group of cousins.

The day starts at the cemetary and it's kind of raining so they didn't put all of the flags up like they normally do. Well, the Legion shows up and they decide they're going to put the flags up now so they start handing out flags in plastic bags. After some laughter and jokes about screwing it up and causing the Legion to use you as target practice for the 21 gun salute I manage to get the flag up on the pole and in the correct direction. Inside the bag there was what I thought was another U.S. flag but I realized the error of my ways when all of the other American flags had a different state flag flying under it representing the home states of veterans that had died or something. So, I had inadvertantly dishonored the veterans of Iowa that included some ancient relative of mind.

Most people took in stride but the woman with all the flags looked pretty pissed at me. I think if she's going to bitch she shouldn't wait until the last minute and then hand flags to me like I'm not going to screw it up. What do I know about flag poles?

The Legion is standing around waiting for us to get our shit together which is taking forever so she really could have put that flag up there if she wanted to. Finally they do their thing and it's kind of sad because there was this one guy who was really old and we noticed that he didn't get his final shot off in time so at the very maximum we had a 20 gun salute. I just wish the American Legion didn't hate America. Wait a second...

After this it was off to explore the farm and then the gym. We usually have a great day and, like I said, it's been the same day, same place for decades so that's kind of cool.

Well, last year my sister and I began to notice that there were a lot of people that we didn't recognize at all. It's not that uncommon to have a few randoms there but their numbers seemingly exploded and they were everywhere. That was kind of odd we thought but never really cared too much. Until this year.

We show up at the gym and head inside only to find one of these random women with a name I'd never heard of sitting at a card table by the door. I see that people are wearing nametags for the first time ever. Well, that's not a bad idea, I guess, since I sometimes get my dad's cousins confused or forget a name. So, we go up to the table and the woman just kind of stares at us. There is a guestbook to sign, a mailing list for addresses and email addresses (with explicit instructions to "PLEASE PRINT"), and a stack of nametags. I sign the guestbook, write all of my info on the list, and then start getting ready for my nametag. Only she won't let anyone else actually write their own name on the nametag. And not only that but she's just sitting there pretending that we don't exist.

After a few awkward moments she finally asks for our names. I spell my first name out like a jerk but I was getting tired of her attitude. I'm not allowed to write my own nametag now? What am I going to do?

She hands us her nametags and curtly says, "we're really glad you could make it."

Umm, what? Seriously? You just copped an attitude with us at an event we've been attending since we were just weeks old? No, I'm glad YOU could make it to OUR event but I'm not glad you feel the need to boss everyone around at it. They actually had a typed list of everyone that attended last year only everyone was grouped by town name so completely random people were thrown in together like they were a family. It was ridiculous.

And what the hell is going out in the mailing list? Hey, everybody, the reunion is the same time, same place next year! Don't forget.

Only, it appears they don't WANT it to be the same time, same place next year. Before the meal they start jabbering about how they asked the group that rents it on the Sunday before Memorial Day if they wanted to trade days. All of the regulars are like, "what?" Fortunately that group declined and they asked if we wanted to keep it on the same day. Everybody's like, "uhh, yeah." Then some woman pipes up, "well, we can rent my church and that way we could have it there instead." In one of the funnier moments my sister and I have witnessed at this thing my dad kind of yells, "Vetoed! It has to be in Norway."

Well, no shit, the regulars said. That's where the Ames family started from and it's been here forever on the same day.

Apparently these are the offspring of a sibling of my great-grandfather Ames but what is their deal? How far out on the family tree do we need to go? They don't really talk to us and we don't really talk to them they just show up and try to change everything. If there's one thing our family won't stand for it's screwing with tradition.

One of my grandma's sisters was really annoyed because of the whole deal and the fact that they tried to change some stuff. She said something to the effect of, "apparently the way I ran it for years wasn't good enough for them." Then her husband piped up, "well, I like the nametags." Oops. We all reassured her that she did a great job and that they screwed it up when the gym wasn't unlocked on time.

So, in the grand scheme of things it's kind of not a big deal but then it kind of is to us because this is our family and our traditions they're screwing with and just because they started coming in the last few years doesn't mean they can screw it up for the rest of us. As far as I'm concerned they can have their own thing in the church on Sunday and the rest of us will do just fine.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Agghhhh

A friend and I used to joke about the Bush administration finding not only the least qualified person for a job, but the absolute last person you should pick for the job. Hopefully that makes sense but the examples would include a UN ambassador that hated the UN or a former lawyer that defended polluters in lawsuits brought by the EPA as head of the EPA. Sort of like when the Kansas Board of Education appointed someone with no educational experience and a big supporter of private and home schooling.

It's sort of like, well, of course the person is going to do a crappy job, they hate what they're doing and want to destroy it. Unfortunately the American public often does this same thing by electing people who say over and over again that "government doesn't work." Well, you're halfway there. Government definitely doesn't work when you're in charge.

I remember one particular discussion that took place at work as we hid out in a cubicle attempting to do as little work as possible. The object of the discussion was Paul Wolfowitz who had recently been appointed as World Bank president. Why would a man whose whole life has been suggesting bombing Third World countries as a solution to problems be good at finding monetary solutions? Well, the obvious answer now is, he wouldn't. However, I had been taken in by a hopeful Newsweek article that opined that perhaps if he were to see the magnitude of the global poverty issue he would be the one person that could convince the president of the need for real action.

Unfortunately the man who was sent to clean up the corruption ended up being corrupt himself when he moved his girlfriend from the World Bank to a job in the State Department with a higher salary than Condoleeza Rice. Pretty sweet gig.

Anyway, Wolfie finally lost his job and the list of potential successors was leaked today. Leading the list to replace this corrupt reformer? Only one of the most corrupt congressmen in recent memory, Bill Frist. Aggghhh!

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Why Milan really won

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shark Jesus born in Omaha, crucified hours later

Exciting news for the City of...whatever Omaha is the city of (insurance companies?).

Scientists confirmed that a shark born in the Henry Doorly zoo was in fact born without the sperm of a male.
Female sharks can fertilize their own eggs and give birth without sperm from males, according to a new study of the asexual reproduction of a hammerhead in a U.S. zoo.

The joint Northern Ireland-U.S. research, being published Wednesday in the Royal Society's peer-reviewed Biology Letter journal, analyzed the DNA of a shark born in 2001 in the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. The shark was born in a tank with three potential mothers, none of whom had contact with a male hammerhead for at least three years.

This leaves mammals as the only major vertebrate group that is apparently unable to accomplish assexual reproduction in a pinch. However, don't get your hopes up for this Shark Jesus to start a major fish religion because he was crucified within hours of his birth.
The baby was killed within hours of its birth by a stingray in the same tank.

Damn, that's harsh. Stingrays take out Shark Jesus and the Crocidile Hunter. I think they might be up to number 2 in the Threatdown.

Oh, and stupid Liverpool lost keeping my streak of teams I care about winning a major championship at...pretty much lifetime unless you count KU in '88 and I don't really. I blame the refs for missing the handball on the first goal and the Italians for having long hair that is suspiciously greasy (stereotypical but also true).

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I have a desirable to standing victorious!

Well, the Champion's League final is today. By the time most of you read this it will be over but since I've been a huge Liverpool fan for about, oh, a year and a half now I thought I should mention that they were playing. I've been watching some of the preview videos found one that was particularly awesome. Not surprisingly the creator is not a native English speaker.

These two teams met in the final two years ago with Liverpool falling behind 3-0 at the half but storming back to tie it with three goals in six minutes. They went on to win on penalty kicks. Clearly Milan thinks "the time to revange is now" but Liverpool thinks otherwise.

Enjoy and come on, you Reds! YNWA!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The most anarchic sporting event since the NBA All-Star Game in Vegas

I'm talking about the infield of the Preakness. Judging by the YouTube videos coming out from this it looks like a strange combination of a NASCAR Race, MTV Spring Break, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, UNI Homecoming, and American Gladiators only with way more drinking.

First off is the port-a-pottie races. Your goal is to run across the top of the a ridiculously long line of portable crappers without getting knocked off by the hundreds of half full beer cans the rest of the crowd is chucking at you. Watch for the guy at about 1:20 that takes one to the face and drops like he's Glass Joe.

The reverse angle of that guy can be found here. Fortunately a few of the people stop throwing long enough to help him down once he regains consciousness.

The Washington Post attempts to describe the scene and includes an entertaining video of some drunk dude covered in mud attempting to hold himself up while his fat buddy chats away on his cell phone. From there you can find plenty of other videos of drunkies at this thing. Here's one for if you like wasted girls rolling around in filth until some guy helps her up. She's so appreciative she tries to make out with him. Sounds like a weekend at the Hawk.

Here's one of a couple of dudes wrestling on the ground as crowds of people wander by obliviously. The sad thing is there's about a hundred of these just like it that keep showing up in the related videos. I'm not even sure what to say about the pure chaos down there. It looks like a complete nightmare.

Honestly, if you're looking for a reason why al Qaeda hates us this has to rank way ahead of "freedom."

Update: Hey, if you're looking to get home from the Preakness and you may be paralyzed from a dash across the shitters I just got an email from Aaron pointing out the perfect solution.
A German man in a wheelchair was pulled over for driving down the middle of the street and when the police checked him out found he was 10 times the legal limit. However, since it is his only method of transport he can't be charged with a DUI.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

We were so close

Apparently we were only about 142 years or a time machine away from saving Abraham Lincoln's life.

The Historical Clinicopathological Conference, a group that apparently diagnoses famous dead people with diseases like syphylis (Beethoven!) or typhoid fever complicated by Guillain-Barre syndrome (Alexander the Great!) and this time decided if they could have saved Lincoln's life. Their verdict? Sort of.
If he had lived, he would at the very least have been partially blind, unsteady on his feet, numb in certain regions of his body and inarticulate. Nevertheless, he might have been able to think and, after much rehabilitation, communicate.
Hmm, unsteady on his feet, numb in certain regions, inarticulate yet still able to think and communicate with much effort. I'm reminded of someone....

Clearly it would have been possible for him to continue on as president in 2007 as well! As soon as we get a time machine I'm bringing Brain-Damaged Lincoln back.

But, really though, isn't this kind of a dumb article? I mean, where do we draw the line? Are we going to cure James K. Polk's tuberculosis or William Henry Harrison's pleurisy? Hell, Zachary Taylor basically died from heat stroke. We've found a cure for that by now, right?

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Friday, May 18, 2007

I truly am blessed

Sitting in my mailbox when I came home today was something that can only be described as divine intervention. On the outside of the envelope it said "God's Holy Spirit instruced us to loan you this to start turning things around for you. So, here it is. Use it and be blessed."

Hmm, I thought. That's interesting. They're using God's name to loan people money? On the back there is a written prayer asking God to annoint this letter to meet my most pressing needs as I open this church letter. It continues on to
"let Thy power from heaven descend upon this home tonight and tomorrow night, after this one has mailed their most pressing needs back" (all emphasis theirs, by the way). "We pray that they will break open this sealed prophecy after sunset tomorrow. Amen"

So, I open it up and discover they are not in fact loaning money but a paper prayer hankerchief.
"THIS ANNOINTED ACTS 19:11, 12 FAITH HANDKERCHIEF IS LIKE AN ANNOINTED PROPHET OF GOD COMING TO YOUR HOUSE TO BLESS YOU. USE IT IN FAITH."
My momentary disappointment is assuaged after reading further. The letter goes on to explain how people used special handkerchiefs sent by the apostle Paul as points of faith contact items and apparently they gave miracles.
"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul" So that from his body were brought unto the sick H-A-N-D-K-E-R-C-H-I-E-F-S or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirts went out of them." ACTS 19:11,12.
I don't know if "handkerchiefs" is actually spelled out like that in the Bible because I didn't have time to check. I was much too excited by what I read next.

Apparently all I have to do for this to work is follow these instructions:
"1) PRINT YOUR NAME AND YOUR MOST PRESSING PROBLEM, BY FAITH, IN THE CENTER OF THIS BIBLE HANDKERCHIEF. Yes, that's what I said...print your name, by faith in the center of this church handkerchief AND THE NAME OF SOMEONE ELSE WHOM YOU REALLY LOVE THAT NEEDS GOD'S HELP. Print their name and yours."

I was a little confused about what to do but the all-caps instructions and the repeat afterwards helped explain it to me.
"2) Then, OPEN YOUR BIBLE TO THE BOOK OF ACTS, CHAPTER 19, VERSES 11 AND 12, if you have a Bible. If not, it's okay. God sees."

Whew, I have a Bible. Not that I don't trust God but I'd feel better if I was actually seen doing this. I'll do it twice just in case God was looking somewhere else the first time.
"3) Then, LAY THIS BIBLE FAITH HANDKERCHIEF (with your name printed in the center of it) ON THIS SCRIPTURE."

Oh man, I almost forgot to write my name on it.
"4) Leave it there under your side of your bed for TONIGHT ONLY! If you can't, God will see your situation, but we would like you to sleep over it."

OK, not to sound like a whiner but it's going to be hard to sleep on top of my Bible. I mean, I'm no "Princess and the Pea" but I like to be comfortable. Our first potential road block.
"In the morning, please take this faith handkerchief out of that Bible, put it into this self-addressed envelope (the church will pa the postage for you - this is so important_ and return it to us in the morning. I repeat, please do not keep this faith handkerchief, and please do not break this flow of God's spirit from my home to your home. Rush this Bible, church handkerchief back, for I must write something, in the spirit, to you that's good and is coming to your door."

I'm confused. Do I have to send them my Bible too? The instructions continue about the importance of me making a seed offering to the church as a seed to my harvest. I get it, give a little, get a little. That makes sense. Also included is a sealed prophecy that I am not to open until sunset tomorrow. I'm not sure I can wait that long. I hope it's like Harry Potter's prophecy.

So, with my handkerchief I am supposed to send back a checklist of things I want them to pray for me. There are several choices so I'll just tell you a few of them.
Dear Pastors at Saint Matthew's 56-Year-Old Church,
I received this Bible handkerchief and this Sealed Prophecy you loand me, and I used it as you instruced in this spiritual letter of faith. Now, I am returning it for prayer that God would me a special miracle blessing. I shall open this sealed prophecy after sunset tomorrow.
Pray for my family and me for...
To be Saved
Confusion in my home
My Children
A Better Job
To Stop a Bad Habit
A New Car
A Money Blessing
Pray for God to bless me with this amount of money: $_______"
I'm not going to lie, when I got to the part about "a new car" I said it in Rod Roddy from the Price is Right's voice. A NEW CAR!

Wow, I'm just so honored they chose me and everyone else in my apartment building for this unique honor. I'm writing my name on my paper handkerchief right now and enclosing my check for $100 and asking God for a million dollars. That's a pretty good investment, right? Their testimonial page is so convincing.
"I received a check for $3,500"
"Son in Law Is Off Dope"
"God made a way for my son to come back home with us. That same day, I sent the handkerchief back to (you) ( sic). God also blessed me to fix up my house."
Wow, just like Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

So, in addition to the million dollars I'm also praying that my friends will start watching the Office. Isn't this exciting????

Also, one of my neighbors carelessly dropped theirs on the stairs so perhaps I could pick it up for one of you if God isn't watching. Please reply with all haste so you can share in my financial windfall.

You know, I feel sorry for those people that are so desperate that they are willing to fall for those Nigerian money laundering scams. I'm glad that I have something greater in which to place my faith.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tortoise vs. Cat

My friend Aaron sent me this link to a CNN video of the meanest, fastest tortoise I've ever seen. This little guy has a killer instinct like a lion. Awesome.

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Recommended Daily Dosage of Irony

Anti-gay bigot Fred Phelps is protesting at the funeral of anti-gay bigot Jerry Falwell.

The obvious reason for this is that Fred Phelps loves getting his face on TV and his message out there in any way possible and protesting big funerals for whatever BS reason they make up is an easy way to do that. In this case he claims that:
WBC will preach at the memorial service of the corpulent false prophet Jerry Falwell, who spent his entire life prophesying lies and false doctrines like “God loves everyone.”

In the words of Dan Savage:
Excuse me, Fred—but what the fuck are you talking about? Did two corpulent Falwell dudes die today? Jerry Falwell taught that God loves everyone? Really? When? I want to see the video.


Falwell spent a lifetime dividing this country in every way possible. Whether it was blaming the September 11 attacks on pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, ACLU, and the People for the American Way (it's kind of funny that the actual terrorists hate those groups also but why let that get in the way of attempting to score a cheap political point?), claiming that the antichrist was a living Jewish male, or running a magazine most famous for warning parents about the hidden dangers of Tinky Winky he was always finding ways to get himself on television and get his message out there in any way possible.

I don't celebrate deaths but it's hard to get too worked up about losing another "agent of intolerance".

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NBA: It's faaaantastic

Wow, so the playoffs kind of went downhill fast, right? I mean one minute everyone is excited about the Warriors knocking off the Mavs and the next thing you know we're reduced to watching the NBA suspend two Phoenix's top players for basically doing nothing but wandering onto the court after their teammate was slammed into the press table. While that's embarrassing it's nothing compared to the Nets-Cavs.

Before today there was a 100% chance that I wouldn't have been able to tell you what that series stood at just because, well, who cares, right? I mean, Nets and Cavs? You've got Vince Carter famous for his dunks and fading when it matters going against LeBron who plays hard in about 2 out of every 3 games. So, last night the teams combined for the lowest scoring 4th quarter in the NBA since the advent of the shot clock. This is just mind boggling but the Nets were on the road in a potential elimination game and they scored 6 points in the 4th quarter. Oh, but that's not all, they also won by 11. Ridiculous. Thank 9 lb. 6 oz Jesus that I didn't watch that crapfest.

Regarding the other series I thought I would paraphrase part of a conversation that Swany and I were having as the Bulls were closing out their game 5 win.
"So, if they hold on tonight they'll be back in Chicago for Game 6 and if they win there then it's Game 7 and who knows what will happen there. Well, we do know...the Pistons will win, but we don't really know what could happen, right?"

Well put. Add the Pistons to the list of teams that don't really give a shit about trying to close out a series but give the Bulls credit as well for overcoming Scott Skiles' wagering on the Pistons and Kirk Hinrich's haircut.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yay!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Don't Buy Gas Day

So, apparently today is "Don't Buy Gas Day", what has become an annual attempt to lower gas prices by, well, not buying gas for one day.

Unfortunately the reality is that the days of cheap gas are over forever. We've hit peak oil, the moment when we have mined more oil than there is left in the world. Despite the record prices the oil companies have failed to increase production for another year because, despite skyrocketing consumption, the oil just isn't there or is getting too hard to get to at this point. The only thing that will keep the costs down is to decrease our consumption and increasing reliance on renewable energies. Unfortunately these don't lend themselves to slogans and require a little more effort than just waiting until tomorrow to fill up your Hummer.

As much as I hate to say it (and I bitch about it to myself every time I fill up my car) but higher gas prices might be in the longterm interest of our country. Most people or companies won't change until it is in their financial interest to change and, for the most part, that's just as true for me as it is for anyone else. Merely postponing that addiction for another day won't do anything but make you feel good.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

You must have eaten, like, a hundred bucks worth of pot, and, like, 30 bucks worth of shrooms man

Here's the story of a Michigan policeman who was stealing drugs and apparently using them with his wife. This included cocaine used to train police dogs and marijuana that he cooked up into brownies. Apprently that didn't go so well leading to this:
The department's investigation began with a bizarre 911 call from Sanchez's home in Dearborn Heights. On the night of April 21, 2006, a panicky Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.

"I think we're dying," he said in the 5-minute tape, obtained under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

"We made brownies and I think we're dead, I really do," Sanchez continued.

He told the dispatcher he had never made marijuana brownies before, but had previously used marijuana.

Then, he asked the score of the Red Wings game on television that night, explaining, "I just want to make sure this isn't some type of, like, hallucination that I'm having."

I don't know much about drug hallucinations but I hope they'd be cooler than changing the score of a hockey game. Although maybe I'd enjoy the Royals more if I were stoned out of my mind.

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Brownback booed for not properly fellating Favre

Nice job, Sam. You should have thrown in a few lines about how much fun he has out there or something.
LAKE GENEVA, Wis. (AP) -- Note to Sen. Sam Brownback: When in Packerland, don't dis Mississippi native Brett Favre.

The Kansas Republican drew boos and groans from the audience at the state Republican Party convention Friday evening when he used a football analogy to talk about the need to rebuild the family.

"This is fundamental blocking and tackling," he said. "This is your line in football. If you don't have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history."

Oops.

Realizing what he had said, Brownback slumped at the podium and put his head in his hands as the crowd expressed its displeasure.

"That's really bad," he said. "That will go down in history. I apologize."

His apology brought a smattering of applause and laughter. He tried to recover, saying former Packer Bart Starr may be the greatest of all time, but the crowd was still restless.

"Let's take Favre then," Brownback said. "The Packers are great. I'm sorry. How many passes does he complete without a line?"

"All of them!" more than one person yelled from the back.

"I'm not sure how I recover from this," Brownback said. "My point is we've got to rebuild the family. I'll get off this."

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Entrapped in the Closet

When I was in high school I saw a movie starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones called "Entrapment" with my friend Eike. Other than the fact that the last half of the movie was basically a neverending climax that wasn't terribly exciting it wasn't that bad, I guess. I don't really remember who was entrapping whom but I think it had something to do with stealing diamonds and one of them was a cop but they fell in love or some bullshit like that. But, ever since I saw that movie I've been obsessed with the fine line between entrapment and an undercover agent.

OK, truthfully the movie didn't make me think about that at all but you're supposed to tell a story in your opening paragraph to really grab your reader's attention. This is a device that works much better when the actual subject matter is entertaining but, clearly, that's never been the goal in the Basement.

The issue of entrapment has been in the headlines lately revolving around the case of the six immigrants charged with plotting to attack Fort Dix. The men allegedly made a tape of themselves talking Jihad(!) and shooting some guns which drew the attention of a store clerk tasked with transferring it to DVD and, subsequently, the FBI.

The government then sent two paid informants to infiltrate the group. One of the men claimed to be a former member of the Egyptian military which led to his role as chief planner of the attack. Looking at what I've read the men seemed somewhat interested in carrying out the attack although they did balk when the guy tried to get them to buy rocket launchers and other heavy duty weaponry. Therefore I doubt that it technically meets the threshold of "entrapment" but I wonder about the ethics of seeking out people that would never seek out the crime on their own.

Essentially there are many, many people that love to talk big and then never follow through with any of it. These men had a love of AK-47s but their "training mission" consisted of heading to the Poconos to play paintball. Were these men truly the terrorists that the media and government are making them out to be or are they men who liked to talk tough and found themselves caught up in a situation they, themselves, weren't comfortable with. I guess if they're stupid enough to try to buy the guns they might be stupid enough to try something dangerous.

An even more egregious example is the seven men arrested in Miami for "plotting" to blow up the Sears Tower. These men were provided uniforms, weapons, a warehouse, and other supplies by the FBI. They "planned" their attacks while getting high, did no survellience, and the attorney general admitted that the only way they could have obtained explosives was through the informant sent by the FBI. So, what was their real crime? Talking a bunch of shit until the FBI decided to arrest them?

Certainly with a large terrorist attack I'd prefer they not take chances but I would like them to use some common sense. There are plenty of other examples of this as well.

Take NBC's "To Catch a Predator", for example. Most of you are probably at least familiar with the show. They send people to chat rooms posing as teens trolling for sex and get the men to meet them. The person arrives at the house stunned at their luck when smug Chris Hanson comes through the corner summing every bit of gravitas he can manage. The show has become so popular that many of the suspects know they are busted as soon as he starts talking. Usually they start talking freely as if things will be fine as long as they can explain what happened and they weren't really going to have sex with that girl and those naked pictures weren't sent on purpose and the condoms aren't for her...

Those that defend the show say that these men are dangers to children and should be taken off the street. Certainly we don't want them having sex with underage kids but how often do these situations truly present themselves? Would these men ever have a chance to meet a teen that was dumb enough to want to have sex with them and invite them over to her house? I suppose it's possible and there are lots of messed up and vulnerable kids but many of these people would otherwise lead completely law-abiding lives if this show didn't have people posing as sex-starved kids. It just seems like they're taking advantage of these moron's stupidity to make a boatload of money and hype up a crime that shouldn't be a problem if you're proactive about looking at what your kid is doing on the internet.

My last example comes from one of those dumb shows where they have all the police videos and stuff. They were showing a decoy car set up by the police in Columbus, Ohio, ostensibly to catch car thieves. Makes sense, I guess. However, from my viewpoint they weren't catching car thieves at all. And, again, I'm drawing a distinction between people that actually committed a crime, which these people did, and people that otherwise would never commit a crime if the police didn't set up a completely unrealistic situation. In this case they parked a car with it's door open and keys in the ignition.

Of course there are a bunch of stupid, stupid people that would think taking this car for a joyride would be fun but are they the type of people are stealing locked cars? I doubt it. So, what service is this providing to the public other than to lock people up? Our prisons are overcrowded enough without resorting to creating crimes for people to commit.

"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."
"Atlas Shrugged"
Ayn Rand

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McSweeney's Voter Guide

McSweeneys.net has kindly provided a voting guide of some pros and cons of the top 20 Republican and top 20 Democratic presidential candidates.

Here are a few of my favorites, first for the Republicans:
ZOMBIE RONALD REAGAN
Pro: Probably the most Reaganesque candidate available; if stoked with the brains of the living, should operate in an acceptable fashion.
Con: Long-dead eyes lack that magic twinkle; inhuman groans negatively impact "Great Communicator" status.

NEWT GINGRICH
Pro: Well known.
Con: See above.

EDDIE VAN HALEN
Pro: I tell you what, he would bring the nations of the world together through ROCK! He'd be all deedly-deedly-deedly-DEE-DEE-DEE! on his guitar and the bosses of the other countries would be all, "Whoa! Let's stop fighting and start rocking!"
Con: Drunken wretched mess.

YOUR MAMA
Pro: Strong personality; nurturer; kind; strict when she has to be; always shows up at soccer games or school plays; skilled at managing a busy family.
Con: Upon her election, nation would be instantly vulnerable to any number of verbal attacks about president being so fat, so ugly, so stupid, etc.

KENNY LOGGINS
Pro: Is all right; therefore, no one needs to worry about him.
Con: Gonna take you right into the danger zone.

And, the Democrats:
DICK CHENEY IN AN ELABORATE LATEX DISGUISE
THAT TAKES FIVE HOURS TO APPLY
Pro: Trojan horse, my friend. Trojan fucking horse.
Con: Ruse would be so exciting that he would surely drop dead of a massive stroke about a month before Iowa.

OPTIMUS PRIME
Pro: Size; power; ability to emit short-range optic blasts.
Con: Potential attack ad: "Sometimes Optimus Prime is a robot, other times a truck. Which is it, Mr. Prime? America deserves a leader that doesn't transform whenever it's convenient."

JESUS CHRIST
Pro: Could draw some initial interest from the Christian right until they research his actual positions in a deeper way; likable; strong leadership qualities.
Con: Unkempt; pretty far left; messianic complex.

Personally, I'm torn between Optimus Prime and Zombie Reagan but there are plenty of others to choose from so go take a look.

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"Flâneur" by Gould, Berlin 2007


"It's a short stop motion film. There is no digital image manipulation in it! Everything you see has really been wheatpasted!"

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Monday, May 07, 2007

I've searched the world over...

Europe's been in the news a little bit lately. Well, maybe more Americans being really confused about Europe.

First, there's been some gloating from the conservatives that the conservative guy beat the Socialist for the French presidency. I found all of that more than a little hilarious. I mean, the guy is pro-choice, was against the Iraq War, and is pretty much a conservative Democrat at best but they act like this is some sort of major victory for Bush. I guess when your approval dropped down the 28% you have to look for small victories.

Then there's Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In his effort to suck up to the religious right and prove that Mormans are just like them, only way different, he's been on a tour of Pat Robertson's university and all of these other gathering of religous people that scare me. In his graduation he said this:
"It seems that Europe leads Americans in this way of thinking. In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."


Wow, so, seriously? No wonder Europe is so messed up. The only problem is it's not true. In fact, it's part of a plot of a fictionalization of the Book of Mormon set in space. So...he was pretty close, I guess.

Seriously, I don't think there have been candidates this out of touch since Kang and Kodos promised abortions for some and miniature American flags for others.

And, just because I love that sketch here's another quote from it:
Kodos: I am Clin-Ton. As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me
and obey my brutal commands. End communication.
Marge: Hmm, that's Slick Willie for you, always with the smooth talk.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

wolves and fishes

Last night I had one of those times where you're not really sure how something is going to turn out but it ends up being something really fanfreakingtastic.

The band No River City was playing at my friend Jared's house. This is the same house that hosted my birthday party so it's definitely living the crap out of late spring/early summer. Jared had emailed the band after they opened for Mason Jennings in Lawrence about four years ago telling them they should come back to Lawrence. Well, they finally did but unfortunately all of the venues in Lawrence were dumbasses and were already booked up so the show ended up happening at the house. Three bucks, a keg of beer, and some good music. You can't really go wrong with that.

The show was advertised in the Pitch so we weren't really sure how many people were going to show up. Basically only one person showed up that wasn't one of our friend group or invited by a member of the friend group but there ended up being a halfway decent sized crowd even though a lot of the people sat on the porch for some reason but that's alright. The one guy that showed up ended up pissing me off for some reason because he said something really dumb or was just generally acting like an idiot. I was a little drunk and had already complimented him on his Bob Ross t-shirt and it probably wasn't a big deal at all.

So...the band pretty much owned the place. They were awesome and put on a great show for playing in someone's living room and they seemed to kind of get into it. The lead singer looked like he straight out of fucking Deadwood. I mean, he was a deadringer for Al Swearengen. That, combined with his personality, earned him a spot of my mancrush list alongside Billy from the band Oh My God and David Bowie. He was a funny, laid back southern dude that listened to my dumb stories and laughed at my dumb jokes. We talked about our mutual love for the subtleties of the midwest and a bunch of other stuff.

Even though they probably lost money driving from St. Louis to Lawrence and back to Columbia, Missouri they all seemed to be in a pretty good mood. I bought a CD that's providing the soundtrack for this post and it's every bit as good as I remember the show. So, if they're anywhere near you you should check them out and give them some support. But, I mean, only if you're into alt-country/indie type bands that will own your soul. I think they're headed to Colorado, then California, and then Northwest, and Iowa in June. So, other than Iowa, that's pretty much no one that reads this blog but, hey, maybe.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Yess...yessss


This is the largest size of this image I could find but doesn't Cheney look a lot like the Penguin? Seriously, the back of his suit coat is at the same level as his eyes!

Sometimes I wonder if. much like Gollum, his appearance and unnaturally long life are the result of finding the one, true ring. Or maybe he's more like Voldemort in his weakened form. The thing we can agree on is that he's pure evil.

I'm not sure I could be in the same room as him without being entirely creeped out. My only guess at what the Queen is thinking is something along the lines of, "how quickly will my guards be able to get this guy off of me when he finally decides to go ahead and eat my heart?" That, and, "damn, this is a big, blue hat."

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Random thoughts on a Friday

My birthday party weekend led right into a busy week full of eye doctor appointments and studying so I didn't have much time to write but that doesn't mean I didn't have anything on my mind. The party and spending time with some of my closest friends from ISU was such a good weekend that the week following it was really pretty depressing. Anyway, here are a few thoughts.

We'll start with the world of sports. The Royals have played 29 games so far this year. In those 29 games they have used 28 different batting orders and 26 different lineups. How is that even possible? What's exciting is they just called up Billy Butler which could lead to even more combinations. While they've been playing much better of late they're still underperforming what I need them to do to win my bet. However we still have those glorious weeks when they go on some meaningless winning streak that pulls them from 40 to 30 games back in the standings so I still have hope. And they play the Twins 13 more times.

So, how about that Dirk Nowitzki? In that San Antonio series last season he almost silenced those that held stereotypes about European players not being mentally tough enough to be a superstar in this league and then he followed that up with a choke job in the final three games in the Miami series and an even bigger choke job in the first round against a #8 seed. It's almost embarrassing that he will probably win MVP. I think they should fly him back to Oakland to present the trophy at halftime of one of their games.

My favorite Tecmo Super Bowl player of all-time is participating in a pirate-themed reality show. Former Chief Christian Okoye will be competing in Pirate Master where contestants live on a ship and search for a million dollar treasure. Let's see, pirates, Christian Okoye, dumb TV show...what else could I ask for? Okoye has always been one of my favorite players because he was the main offensive guy on their good teams when I was first becoming a fan. Then I got Tecmo Super Bowl and have been killing teams with him since then. Plus, in our high school weight room there was this ridiculously awesome poster of him that said "Nigerian Nightmare" where he was wearing the Freddy Kruger hat and glove and players representing the other AFC West teams were hiding in a bed behind him. Bad. Ass. I really wish I could have found the image on the internets but I guess no one is willing to scan posters off their bedroom wall anymore.

Anyway, I think I'll save the rest of my thoughts for another post sometime. Until then...

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